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 Report - Monthly Activity Report (WVI)

 Report date: 31.03.1999

Executive Summary

During the months of March and April, WVAz, in co-operation with the World Food Programme, distributed over 333 MT of supplementary food rations, to 64,726 beneficiaries in the districts served by the Mingechevir and Imishli operations. For the most part this consisted of wheat flour with only small amounts of vegetable oil, sugar and pulses distributed in Horadiz town. The Community Shelter Rehabilitation Programme (CSRP) has now completed work on 25 public buildings in Baku and Sumgait, with another 11 currently in progress. The work of volunteers in these shelters has again been expanding, with WV organising another conference for the exchange of different ideas and plans, and the dissemination of training materials. World Visions Azerbaijan Enterprise Fund (AZEF) dispersed $152,730 in loans which helped to create or expand 242 businesses. Of these, 119 (49%) were women owned businesses. Nutrition teams have continued with their on-going surveys, with results for March and April finding a decrease in the food security situation and an increase in malnutrition among children. Families are found to be eating fewer meals per day than previously. In Horadiz, the income generation project distributed 101 new loans, for a total of $75,563. The project has now expanded into six villages surrounding Horadiz. Work is underway on three in Lenkoran, Quba and Sumgait, carrying out rehabilitation of the school buildings.

1. WV/WFP Food Distribution

During March 152.232 metric tonnes (MT) of supplementary food rations were distributed to 30,454 beneficiaries from the area served by the Imishli operation, while 165.511 MT of food were distributed to 33,103 beneficiaries from the areas served by Mingechevir. These rations took the form of wheat flour only, with a half ration (5kg) being distributed.

During the month of April only one distribution took place. This was in Horadiz town in Fizuli district where the distribution consisted of a full ration of wheat flour, vegetable oil and sugar, and a half ration of peas. A total of 15.546 MT of commodities was distributed to 1,169 beneficiaries in Horadiz. Distributions in Horadiz are targetted at returning IDPs, who receive food for a period of 6 months following their return to the area. No other distributions took place during April due to a shortage of commodities.

The next shipment of commodities, comprising only wheat flour, arrived at the warehouses during April. A total of 820.131 MT was received during April both for the Mingechevir and Imishli operations. Distribution of these commodities was scheduled to begin May 3rd, with a half ration of wheat flour being given out. WFP have received commitments for further support from a number of sources and are in the process of purchasing commodities with the aim of returning distributions to full rations in June or July.

2. Community Shelter Rehabilitation Project (CSRP)

Shelter Rehabilitation

March and April were productive months for the shelter project. Another eight buildings were completed during this time. With 25 buildings finished there are only 11 to complete, and with warmer weather approaching it is anticipated to finish the work ahead of the October deadline. The living conditions of 1,750 IDP families have been rehabilitated thus far within the Shelter project. At present all final 11 buildings are in progress. Of these, 3 are in the initial community work development stage, while 8 are involved in rehabilitation work.

Work at the Dormitory #15 and Polytechnical School (forming a group of buildings in Sumgait known as Kvartel 41) has continued with the implementation of rehabilitation work. As was reported previously (see Januarys and Februarys reports), they have had significant difficulties with the drainage in this area. The main streets drainage system was overburdened from the influx of extra people in the area. This, connected with poor water supply, led to drains becoming blocked and basements of the buildings filling with sewage and general waste water. World Visions discussions with the Sumgait authorities led to an agreement whereby the authorities dug up the old pipes and re-laid the road after World Vision had installed the new drainage system. This solution has successfully solved the problem and the buildings are now drying out.

The work in the five buildings in Civil Engineers Institute in Baku is now completed. New pumps has been installed there to take water to 9th floor of the buildings, they have new waste containers and a scheduled system for removing garbage, new drainage system, new roofs, new electric system, all areas painted inside, plus glass work, doors and other repairs. Basketball and volleyball infrastructure has also been installed. The community has also been involved in building a safe area for children to play, with a small steel fence around it, in the centre of the complex. With WV providing the necessary support this is an important development in the generation of a sense of community.

Community Work

During April a conference was held at the Community centre for the volunteers working in the shelters. The conference was represented by 20 sites of Sumgait. The main goal of this was to bring together the most motivated volunteers (SWG members, monitors, craftsmen) to share about their work, to give others ideas for improving their situation, to give encouragement to each other, and to show that there are many others doing a good job for the community. Subjects discussed included How to raise money for the community needs, Keeping the site clean, and Monitors work. At the end of the conference, a group of children spoke about the Sanitation Day they had held, and their impressions of it. In total 26 volunteers are doing the work with children and women at the sites. Encouraged by the success of the community work, 10 new volunteers have filled applications and are preparing lists of children and their proposed programmes. The conference participants brought up a new initiative on planting trees on their sites. The result of this was that the population of Lytsey #2, and Independent buildings #1 and 2 have planted many trees in front of their buildings.

As part of the continuing maintenance of the buildings, further sets of tool kits and cleaning kits were distributed during March and April. Tool kits have been distributed at nine buildings, with four types of kits given out targetting different needs - electrics, drainage, masonry, and carpentry. Cleaning kits have also been distributed at seven shelters. Another round of GIK clothing was distributed at five shelters, mainly for children aged under 4. GIK toys have been given at three sites. A number of toys have been given to the Community Rooms and also to volunteers to use in their work with children. Children at the Civil Engineers dormitories and Independent buildings whose playground construction was finished, have also been given soccer balls from GIK supplies.

3. Azerbaijan Enterprise Fund (AZEF)

During March, the Azerbaijan Enterprise Fund (AZEF) dispersed $33,850 in loans for the creation and expansion of 61 businesses. Of these, 33 (54%) represent women-owned business. In April 181 contracts were signed for creation or expansion of businesses with a total of $119,150 disbursed. Of these contracts in April, 86 (48%) were for women-owned businesses. Since its inception, AZEF has lent out over $1,517,750 to start or expand a total of 3,998 businesses.

The issue of late repayments has still been a problem, which appears to be a common issue for many agencies involved in micro-credit activity. AZEF has responded to this by implementing a new strategy including changes in methodology to better determine appropriate loan size and to observe a client objectively, thus improving the clients selection process, and the reduction of the interest rate for repeat clients from 4% to 2.5%. This has allowed AZEF to improve targetting that concentrates on an individual approach to each client and impacts the overall quality of the portfolio.

AZEFs small loan pilot project is now underway. The second small loan was issued in an amount of $6,000 to Mahabbat Guliyev, a yoghurt and cheese manufacturer, who was previously a client of the AZEF Baku office. He has employed eighteen internally displaced people from Fizuli region in his business, 11 of whom are women.

The second Business Association meeting that focused on sewing businesses was held in April. Some sewing clients from Imishli and Ganje were invited to share about their experiences. The purpose was to connect sewing business owners between each other and create useful business contacts. They have had fruitful discussions and have made initial suggestions and plans on how to act together in the future, to present their activities and products, and to market the products in an organised way.

4. Nutritional Monitoring

During March and April, the nutrition team conducted their on-going surveys visiting 108 families in eleven districts - Agdash, Agjebedi, Beylagan, Goychay, Imishli, Ismailli, Mingechevir, Oguz, Saatli, Shamaxi and Yevlakh. Surveys have found that the extended period during which subsidies and pensions have been withheld, in addition to limited employment opportunities and the temporary cessation of supplementary food assistance has had significant effects on WV beneficiary IDPs. Surveys revealed that in January and February 42% of those surveyed had eaten three meals in a day, 51% had eaten two meals, while 11% reported having only one meal. The results for March and April, however, found that just 1% of families reported eating three meals in a day, 39% had eaten two meals, while 60% of families reported having eaten only one meal the previous day.

Nutritional surveys have used the MUAC (Middle Upper Arm Circumference) measurement which, for this period, has indicated an increase in moderate malnutrition, a possible impact of food distribution being suspended during March. While in January and February 14% of children were categorised as suffering from mild malnutrition, with 11% suffering moderate malnutrition, in March and April, 11% of children were mildly malnourished with 16% moderately malnourished. In addition, 12% of IDPs surveyed reported selling personal belongings to buy food or medicine. Livestock and carpets were the two items most frequently reported being sold.

A fourth nutrition brochure entitled Food Security, focusing on sanitation and safety in food preparation and storage, is currently being distributed in all districts served by World Vision Azerbaijan.

5. Horadiz Income Generation Project

During the month of March, 15 loans were dispersed for a combined amount of US$ 14,582, while in April 86 loans were distributed for $60,981. Thus far for the project 224 loans have been disbursed for a total of $161,429.

The project has now expanded into 6 villages surrounding Horadiz and the majority of recent loans have been targetted at these villages. Many of these clients had submitted applications up to a year previously, but had been refused a loan as the regulations of the grant limited the programme geographically. With approval from ARRA, the major donor, to expand into these surrounding villages, many more clients can be targetted.

In order to secure better accountability for loans, staff began a process of tagging livestock in March, thus ensuring that livestock are clearly identifiable to their owner. When animals are used as collateral the must now be presented for tagging before loans can be issued, again ensuring appropriate accountability.

The first indications of potential repayment problems as a result of the market were seen in March, with one client being late in repayments. In April this number had doubled, with two clients presenting repayment problems. WV is working with both clients to find solutions to these problems, encouraging them to find additional work and providing flexibility in their repayment schedules.

It has come to WVs attention that misleading information concerning the credit programme requirements has been spread, leading clients to believe that they are not required to repay their loans. WV is combatting this misinformation by issuing information bulletins stating loan requirements and increasing client visits to strengthen the business advisor-client relationships.

6. Educational Support Programme

Work has begun on three new schools for which funding was granted by the Soros Foundation. This work involves basic rehabilitation of the building including painting, rehabilitation of drainage systems and the provision of new sinks, improvement of water supplies, and cosmetic work improving floors. The three new schools, which include special needs schools, are in Lenkoran, Qusar and Sheki. In addition, GIK school supplies are targetted for these schools.

7. Security Concern

During April, a World Vision AZEF team travelling from the Qazax office to the Ganje office were subject to an attempted armed robbery. Three staff were approaching Ganje when an armed man held up their vehicle and demanded that they divert their course to follow his directions. The incident finished without violence but serves as a further reminder of the potential security risks in the country. WV reported the incident to the appropriate authorities in Ganje. However WV wishes to make other organisations aware of the incident in order that they can take appropriate security measures to minimise the potential of such incidents occurring.

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